Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Friday, March 31, 2006

An Electronic Act of Mercy

Hey, everyone.

I saw this on Amateur Catholics, and figured the rest of the world oughta know, and help. I've never met Ron, and, until about 10 minutes ago, I had never heard of him, nor read his blog. I neither know, nor care if he is traditional or progressive, conservative or liberal.

But Rick Lugari posted it, and that's good enough for me.

St. James tells us, explicitly, that faith without works is dead. Pray for Ron, definitely; but also pray over his immediate material needs and see what God leads you to do. Remember, the world will know Christ is the Messiah by our love.



Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Excellent Jesuitness

Huge tip o' the hat to Karen.



My Very Own Prayer

One of my CCD students--who shan't be outed--asked me to post this. This is how I start my bedtime prayers and to which I "sandwich" the Prayer Matters Du Jour. goes:

Heavenly Father,

I praise You, thank You and glorify You for Your goodness, kindness, bounties, blessings and gifts; none of which I ever deserve and which I receive only through Your mercy and grace. I thank You for blessing me with my wife and my children, I thank you for the people whom You send into contact with me and who carry Your blessings to me or to whom I am privileged to convey Your blessings. Thank you for the challenges You have placed before me, and thank You for giving me the means to meet them with faith. Thank You for my friends and my family.

Thank You for blessing the work of my hands and for giving me the capacity to recognize that any and all success springs from You and to You belong the first fruits of my labor. Grant me the capacity and strength to utilize these material blessings for Your purpose. I thank You for Your mercy, forgiveness and gift of Eternal Life. I thank You for all those who have come before me whose examples serve to guide me, even if I often fall short; I thank You for looking favorably upon them when they have prayed on my behalf, especially when I was unworthy of their intercession, particularly that of the Virgin Mary.

I especially thank You for the amazing progress Davy continues to make, through Your infinite love, kindness and mercy. I thank You for the gift of all those people, far and near, whose prayers on Davy's behalf reach You. Bless them and keep them, Lord.

[I learned from Ye Olde Jesuits that one ought always start one's prayers thanking God.]

Forgive me my sins, Lord. Forgive me for my unkind and selfish thoughts; my thoughts of conceit, my self-absorption even to the smallest dishonesty and unkindness; forgive all the sinful thoughts I have entertained, expressed, or acted upon. Give me a contrite heart with which to turn to You, a repentant spirit with which to seek You...that I may rejoice in gratitude at Your boundless love and mercy. Bless all those whom I have impacted by my sinfulness and help me mitigate the consequences of my actions.

Bless and keep my wife, Lord, because she is Your daughter before she was my wife, bless and keep and guard my sons, because they are Your children more than they are mine. Grant me the wisdom to see Your will, grant me the strength to do Your will and grant me the patience to do so with humility and kindness; as I strive to fulfill my role of husband and father. Bless and keep my parents in their old age and increasing infirmities and when the time comes, grant them a happy and holy death, as You did with St. Joseph.

Bless and keep my family, inlaws, my nieces and nephew. Keep and guard my friends, Lord and I especially ask You to illuminate those who have strayed or are in danger of straying away from Your will and from Your plan for them.

[Intentions du jour go here.]

I especially pray that Your healing be manifested in Davy, Lord. Cleanse him completely, permanently and thoroughly from the scourge of autism, that all those who know him, know of him and come to know him, may know You, glorify You and worship You as You deserve. Bless and strengthen all those families undergoing similar trials, and bless and guide the efforts of all those who toil to eradicate these conditions.

Bless all the members of my family and friends whom You have called from this life, that they also may revel in Your glory. Bless all those who sincerely seek You in love and humility, look favorably upon the intentions of the Holy Father and bless the those whom You have called to vocations, that they may answer Your call, that they may respond with humility and fidelity and that their labor in Your vineyard be blessed abundantly. Bless those who suffer for Your sake, that their trials be salvific and fruitful.

All this I ask in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever,


There you have it.



Monday, March 27, 2006

Fee free? Me?

This snippet from got me thinking.

On the off-chance someone, somewhere decides I ought come in and speak (Suggested topic: Christian Analogies: 3 Hours Filled With "The ____ of God Is Sorta Like A...") I have decided my fee will be on a sliding scale, with a Rosary for my intentions and another for the intentions of the Pope at one end and a Rosary for my intentions, another for the intentions of the Pope, a third for an increase in vocations and a pint of really good beer at the other end.

Should the invitation come from the Holy Father himself, I may raise the latter part of the fee to a full liter of really good beer. Maybe some sort of indulgence in the Get Out Of Purgatory Free card format would be good too. I'll have to think about that one.

I think this is fair.


Pictures? You want pictures??



-J., who lives to benefit humanity

Saturday, March 25, 2006

God and Car Warranties

So, my dad turns 72 today (prayers cheerfully accepted) and he decided to treat himself to a new car. Mind you, he is someone who, generally speaking, has been quite frugal on the matter of buying himself automobiles. When all the partners at his firm were tooling around in Bimmers and Benzes and the odd Roller, he had Buicks, Pontiacs, Nissans and, in what passed for a very belated midlife crisis, a Ford Taurus SHO. I could tell he was having a midlife crisis because the car was stick. I could also tell the crisis abated, because he traded it in a year later for an automatic version.

Anyway, he got himself a Very Nice Car. Not quite something EuroExpensive, but close. (I figure that at age 72, he has precious few new car buys left in him) So, sitting here and cogitating on the matter I thought on the process of taking delivery of the new car and how it resembles the way God wants us to behave.

We read the owner's manual and it says "change the oil every X miles." Many things can happen with this but the interesting part is that the manufacturer of the car has left us totally in charge of freely making the decision to change the oil every X miles. If we don't change the oil at all, the manufacturer won't hunt us down. But the car might not run quite so well after 20,000+ miles on unchanged oil* and we, not the XYZ Motors Inc., will have to live with a car suffering from myriad maladies. These will be the consequences of our own (in)actions, regardless of whether we want to blame XYZ's manufacturing and design.

However, we can also bring in our cars at regular intervals to an XYZ dealership for servicing and, while under warranty, all kinds of problems get fixed. New a/c belts, filters, assorted fluids, gizmos, widgets and so forth are all repaired and the car put back to optimal running conditions.

But we have to go.

Outside of the dealership, we also have a responsibility to wash and vacuum the car, wax it, and otherwise keep it looking nice. After all, we will only get maximum for our trade-in if the car runs well and looks nice.

So it is with God.



* Which pretty much turns to tar. This is not some allegorical reference to the miracle at Cana. Rather it is an explanation of why we had to trade in my wife's previous minivan for my wife's current minivan.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Please spare a brief prayer for

1) Fr. Willie G-T, SJ, who is making his final Jesuit vows today (in 25 minutes from the moment I type this). He's one of the good ones.

2) My friend L., who is discerning a vocation and will be visiting Annunciation Friary for a visit with the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word. Pray the Lord may enlighten him to know His Will, and to bestow on him all the graces necessary to accept it and carry out His will.

Extra credit if you pray for the intercession of a Venerable or Blessed.



Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Killer B's.

Rummaging through Some Have Hats, I have discovered the "B-Team" of Amateur Catholic Bloggers.

I'm not, by nature, "a joiner" of many things. However, Maslow must be given some cred and I must exercise my belongingness needs somehow. Might as well do it this way. After all, said B-Team has many stellar B-Teamers, who blog on all manner of important and weighty subjects, from many different perspectives (including--gasp!--some with which I agree) and do so passionately, elegantly and brilliantly.

Obviously, they need me to balance things out. This, obviously, is an Electronic Work of Mercy (wait for Vatican 3, I'm just ahead of the curve in this regard) on my part. In fact, I consider it a ministry.

Furthermore, to pad my chances, I present the following factoids:

1- I have been educated by Jesuits.
2- I come from a lo-o-o-o-o-ong line of men educated by Jesuits (dating back to Spain & Cuba).
3- My sons (God willing) will be educated by these same Jesuits.
4- With all this Jesuitness, I am an orthodox, moderate-to-traditional Catholic.
5- I still love the Jesuits anyway.
6- What's more, I see no problem or conflict whatsoever between #4 and #5.
7- I teach CCD for 8th Graders who are about to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Strictly by virtue of the work of the Holy Spirit, these students seem to learn enough to be ready for this.
8- My Latin is actually coming back to me.
9- I have never (knowingly) committed simony.
10- I have an excellent knowledge of wines and can tell, with the merest sip, the ones that are so abysmal as to be incapable of transubstantiation.
11- I have been blogging, with varying degrees of public notice, since 2004.
12- I have never been arraigned on matters of canon law (now, traffic law, well...)
13- There is no 13, not because I am beholden to any pagan superstitions, but because I'm not taking chances with those maniacs who are.

There you have it.



Tuesday, March 21, 2006

CCD stuff

For those of my readers who are NOT in my CCD class this year, feel free to skip this post.


Service Hours:

If you need to catch up on your service hours here are two things:

MAGIS is the "more" that St. Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), stressed from his followers and students. For us, MAGIS is an acronym for Making A Gift In Service.
New MAGIS Project on April 1, 2006.

Painting and Restoration at Gesu Church in Downtown Miami

Join the MAGIS Mob from 10 AM to 4 PM helping clean and paint the lower portion of the outside facade at the Church. All supplies and lunch will be provided.

Do your part to beautify one of the Church's true treasures in Downtown. For information contact MAGIS at or at 3O5.86O.O9OO. (The contact person is A l e j a n d r o M a d e r a l)

For more information on Gesu click:, the address is 118 NE 2nd St, Miami, 33132 - 3O5.379.1424 (the Pastor is Fr. Eduardo Alvarez, SJ)

Please pass this along to anyone with students who might want the opportunity to rack up service hours. If anyone needs a "reference" let them know to use my name--Jose (or Joe) Garcia, Belen class of 1981--for this.


On Holy Saturday (04/15/05), there will be a pre-Easter cleanup of "our" Church. Please contact the CCD office 3O5.44 6. 56 88 and when you hit the menu push #1 for the C CD office or #214 for Sr. R's office, to get more details. Figure that you'll get 4-6 service hours therefor. Mr. Soli man will be in charge, so you may get his contact info from the CCD office or from me. (He hasn't given permission for me to post his information for the WHOLE BLOODY INTERNET to see.

Remember you need FORTY FIVE (45) documented service hours for confirmation. NOT 44 hours. If you don't have the full 45 hours, I'll see you next year. You know who you are.

And, López, do not forget that report next Monday.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Defending the Jesuits

I'm going to take a slight detour in today's post.

As you all know, something I do NOT do here is get into progressive vs. orthodox, or GenX vs. Boomer types of arguments. There are better people doing a better job of that out there.

However, that does not mean I do not have my views, nor perfectly sound (to me, anyway) reasons for holding same. Having said that, I will "out" myself as being a pretty orthodox sort of Catholic. The reasons why are outside the scope of this particular post (nothing too exciting...sorry) but suffice it to say I am orthodox in most areas. I like traditional Churches, Douay-Rheims & Ignatius Bibles, and faithful adherence to the Magisterium.

[To my non-Catholic readers, if you go and get snacks and soothing beverages and talk amongst yourselves, I won't mind, honest.]

A lot of people will look at this, and their eyes will widen in horror, and they will ask how the Hell I could be supportive of the Jesuits.

In certain orthodox circles it is an expected thing to do, to point out some whackjob Jesuit somewhere and (eagerly!) tar the whole Society of Jesus therewith. Let me state clearly, while I generally agree with the assessments of these individual heterodox, dissenting and [near-if-not-actually] heretical Jesuits, I emphatically do not accept the premise the whole Company is an unholy mess of NeoApostate Bedwetters. I would wager there are a lot more Jesuits like Fr. Hardon, Fr. Fessio, Fr. Schall or Fr. Buckley than there are like Fr. Drinan or Fr. Berrigan.

Part of the problem is that Jesuits are generally found in more visible roles, in academia and in media which makes some Latter Day Arian stick out further than would be the case in a different order. In fact, in many cases, the coverage of a given heterodox Jesuit's writings in America Magazine will make a bigger splash among orthodox bloggers than the pastoral actions of some dissent-friendly, heterodoxy-coddling bishop[s] or archbishop[s]. (You know who these are, so I needn't mention them by name.)

By this I don't mean to minimize the problem of some/many/a screaming horde of wayward Jesuits running roughshod over Church teachings, because it is a problem...but it's a Churchwide problem not confined to the SJs. Other orders are just as rampant in the weirdness, but for various factors, don't get the press coverage. Also, as we have noted (with great glee, I must add) the younger elements of the Church are becoming more orthodox, more traditional, thinking more of the next world and how to arrive there, than the current world and how to stay happy on/in it. While this is good, it also means the Higher Ups are likely to be less in line with this thinking and, being large-and-in-charge, can make this displeasure felt in ways which are, um, more binding. For now.

After all, the Catechism says that we ought suffer the grievances of this world patiently.

The real problem is when someone who is orthodox, faithful to the teaching authority of the Church, traditional, etc., discerns a call to become a Jesuit priest or brother (YES, the Jesuits have brothers) and people say "The Jesuits?! What are you, mental? Those guys are [insert pejorative of choice]!" and discourage this man from joining the Society of Jesus. THESE are the guys who are needed by the order. After all, in order for Jesus to evict the moneychangers from the temple, He had to enter the temple.

I have great faith that as surely as Spring has sprung (here in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway) and that a great renewal is slowly blossoming within the Church, the Jesuits will be able to cleanse themselves and help lead this renewal.



P.S. I admit, I am spoiled. The local Jesuits are as solidly orthodox as they come (which is rumored to be a reason for them getting in hot water with Those In Authority with some regularity) as well as being dynamic exemplars of evangelization and active service to others.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

My Feast Day!


Today is St. Joseph's Day, i.e., my* feast day. In the USA, this day is overshadowed a bit by St. Patrick's Day, so I'd like to give St. Joseph a bit of airtime.

St. Joseph was, of course, the husband of the Virgin Mary and the earthly guardian of Jesus. While there is nothing authoritatively written about it, the scuttlebutt goes that St. Joseph was an "old man" when Jesus was born. When you think about the state of things in Nazareth in the Year Zero, "old" probably means 30.

That he is specially venerated (particularly--but, of course, not exclusively--by Italian and Spanish-speaking peoples) is something done out of faith since, as Pope John Paul the Great noted, Holy Writ says very little about St. Joseph and in turn, St. Joseph says nothing in Scripture. That's right, St. Joseph is utterly silent in the Bible.

Pope JP2: "St. Joseph is a man of great spirit. He is great in faith, not because he speaks his own words, but above all because he listens to the words of the Living God. He listens in silence. And his heart ceaselessly perseveres in the readiness to accept the Truth contained in the word of the Living God."

St. Joseph's intercession is invoked on behalf of many things, such as fathers, families, a happy/holy death, unborn children and (my fave!) people who fight communism. He was the means via which the prophecy of the Davidic descent of the Messiah would be fulfilled. One of my favorite meditations on St. Joseph concerns the fact he is also likely that St. Joseph may have performed Our Lord's briss, and thus responsible for the first shedding of the blood of Christ.

For a great article on St. Joseph, click HERE.

Here is my favorite prayer to St. Joseph:

Glorious Saint Joseph, foster-father and protector of Jesus Christ, to you I raise my heart and my hands to implore your powerful intercession. Please obtain for me from the kind Heart of Jesus the help and the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I ask particularly for the grace of a happy death and the special favor I now implore.

{mention the petition}

Guardian of the Word Incarnate, I feel animated with confidence that your prayers in my behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. O glorious Saint Joseph, through the love you bear to Jesus Christ, and for the glory of His name, hear my prayers and obtain my petitions.



* Yeah, OK. The Holy Father's as well.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Catechism, Part 2 of ?


Q. What must we do to save our souls?
A. To save our souls, we must worship God by faith, hope, and charity; that is, we must believe in Him, hope in Him, and love Him with all our heart.

Worship means we must give God (and only Him!) divine honor. People are honored all over the place. At the Winter Olympics athletes were honored for their skating, skiing, luge-ing, etc. We honor writers with Pulitzer Prizes, we honor military personnel with medals, and we honor filmmakers with those statuettes we can't mention without paying the Academy a huge royalty.

Basically, we honor people for their achievements and greatness, and because God is the greatest, we give Him the greatest honors. This is not just a matter of "quantity" but of category, i.e., "divine" honors which properly belong to God alone. When you think about it, we are closer in stature to, say, a tapeworm than we are to God. Even the greatest human being around today is not even a gazillionth of what God is, stature-wise.

For instance, in St. John's account of the Gospel we read (1:27) what St. John the Baptist had to say about about God (in the person of Jesus): "The same is he that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose." and in St. Luke's account (7:28)Jesus says: "For I say to you: Amongst those that are born of women, there is not a greater prophet that John the Baptist. But he that is the lesser in the kingdom of God, is greater than he."

There are basically three kinds of worship, usually known by their Latin names:

1- Latria (supreme worship reserved exclusively for God only) and which can't be given to any creature or created thing (think Golden Calf) without sinning the sin of idolatry (idol + latria = idolatry...get it?);
2- Dulia, that "next-best" veneration we give to angels (and saints, blesseds, venerables...) as being especially close to God, and
3- Hyperdulia ("next-best" Plus!) which is higher veneration which Catholics give to the Virgin Mary as the most honored of all God's creatures. This is more than the veneration shown to "regular" saints, but clearly, explicitly and definitely less than the worship (latria) we give to God Himself.

We honor God by never doubting whatever He reveals to us, (i.e., "faith"), by being certain of His promises (i.e., "hope") and by loving Him more than anyone/anything else, (i.e., "charity" which is not what you thought it meant, was it?)

The way we love God is something intellectual instead of emotional. Now, since this love is not measured by intense our emotions are, how can we tell if we love God more than anything/anyone else? Easy! We can tell by the desire to never offend Him for any reason, and by being always ready to obey and serve Him before anyone else.

Q. What is God?
A. God is a spirit infinitely perfect.

Remember this from last time? Let's look at this mo' fully...

Like it was mentioned before, spirits are living, intelligent, invisible-to-our-eyes beings. Spirits have intelligence and as a result they think, they understand, etc.

But there's more to being also as spirit than being invisible...a spirit must also be indivisible, which, aside from rhyming nicely with invisible, means something can't be dissassembled into parts. God is spirit. God is also "infinitely perfect," because He has every possible perfection to the maximum level. If God was missing some perfection, He wouldn't be infinite. DUH. God has limitless wisdom, mercy, power, goodness, kindness, justice, beauty, etc.

Just because people and angels and so forth have some measure of wisdom or beauty, that doesn't mean "God can't have it all, because He's missing the hunk that belongs to those people/angels/etc.," because what the these others have belongs to God, who only lends it to them.

"Perfect" means to be without any defect or fault. We can be perfect ("Be thou therefore perfect, as also thy heavenly Father is perfect. " St. Matthew 6:48) which always shocks a lot of people, until you realize that we can't be INFINITELY perfect. We can hit a 5-iron perfectly, we can make a perfect vinaigrette, we can hit a certain note perfectly...we just can't be doing this infinitely.

More later!



Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Catechism, Part 4 of ...?

[If you are reading this post on a site other than Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam or reading this somewhere with "" in the address, you are reading scraped and stolen content.]

Q. Is there only one God?
A. There is only one God.

Q. Why is there only one God?
A. There can only be one God because God, being supreme (i.e. the highest) and infinite, cannot have an equal.

By "equal" we mean that X has exactly the same attributes, in the same proportion and manner, in everything Y has. F'rinstance, two cars are each other's equal if they are the same model, year, color, have the same options, same engine and transmission and tires, and if they are in the same condition. A gardener is the equal of another gardener if they do the same work equally well. can't have two persons in chief, unless they share their authority equally, but then they're equals and neither will be the boss. God can't share His power with anyone because He is infinite, and that means "to have all." Anyone else only have the loan of his (or her) power from God. This means--duh--all power and authority come from God. When we disobey our parents* or superiors who are properly placed in authority relative to us, we disobey God Himself.

Q. How many persons are there in God?
A. There are three divine persons really distinct (i.e. "not scrambled together") and equal in all things--the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (i.e., "The Holy Trinity").

We use the terms first and second persons "Father" and "Son," because the second is begotten by the first person, and not because of any difference in age. For example I (the father) am older than my son, maybe some people think it works the same with the Holy Trinity. Nuh-uh. God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have existed through all eternity, with one not existing before the other. God the Son is just as old as God the Father, and this is another great mystery. For example: Fire is the cause of light and heat; and yet the heat, light and the fire begin at the same time.

Q. Are the three Divine Persons one and the same God?
A. The three Divine Persons are one and the same God, having one and the same divine nature and substance.

Though they are one God, we can think of it (it doesn't mean this is what it is, it's just one way to wrap our brains around this) in terms of "roles." For example, creation we attribute to the Father; mercy to God the Son; and love and sanctification to the Holy Spirit.

Q. Can we fully understand how the three Divine Persons are one and the same God?
A. We cannot fully understand how the three Divine Persons are one and the same God, because this is a mystery.

We can partly understand it. We know what one God is and we know what three persons are; but how it all works, we are pretty much at as loss here--the mystery, which is a truth which we cannot fully understand. By this we mean it's a revealed truth; which has been made known to us by God or by His Church. It is a truth which we must believe though we cannot understand it.

A good example is something you learn in school. Say, the fact the earth is round, revolves on its axis, and all that. While this is counterintuitive, it's also true and we should have faith and trust in our teachers and textbooks to accept this, even if it doesn't make sens.

If, therefore, we have to believe things we don't grasp based on what people whom we trust (directly or indirectly)...why should the authority of God be any different?

If a 2nd Grader knew as much as a college professor, then there would be no point in going to school. The student would be the equal of the teacher. If we knew all God knows then we would be as great as He. (Remember the bit about the serpent and the tree of knowledge and all that?) Trying to know all that God knows is, as St. Augustine wrote, "like trying to put the ocean in a bucket." OK, maybe it was St. Thomas Aquinas, but either way.

This is the mistake a lot of people make when they try to understand with their limited, human intelligence the infinite knowledge and all the mysterious aspects of God. Because they don't then (and usually smugly) they refuse to believe.

Imagine a 6 year old who decides the Pythagorean theorem is false because he (or she) can't understand it. Now, as the child ages and learns more he (or, as previously stated, possibly she) will understand it more. That same way, when we go from this world to the presence of God, we'll see clearly things that are we can't grasp now. For now, we'll have to take it on God's say-so.

Q. What is a mystery?
A. A mystery is a truth which we cannot fully understand.

When we're talking about "a truth," we mean a revealed truth; that is a truth made known to us by God or His Church. This is the sort of truth which we must believe, even though we don't understand it. F'rinstance, let's say a 7 year old goes to school and is learns the earth is spherical and has two rotations, one on its own axis that brings us days and nights and the other around the sun** that produces our seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter.

But wait! When you go out into, say, the open prairie of Kansas, all you see is miles -- and I mean MILES -- of flat land and if you schlep out to the Rocky Mountains you notice they rise thousands of feet. If you were certified to operate a bathyscape you could see for yourself how the ocean is several miles deep.

Which might make you scratch your head (assuming you had room in the bathyscape) and ask yourself: "Self, how can the earth be round if we have these oceanic trenches, tall mountains, and flat prairies? These, Self, show me (or, more accurately, my senses) the total opposite. What's more, the fact that things aren't hurling off my desk at a zillion miles per hour prove to me the earth is motionless." But, because you are an intelligent, sensible person, you believe, not what your senses attest, but that the earth is spherical and spinning (kind of like your Aunt Gloria at a wedding reception). You believe this because scientists have no motive in folling you; knows more than you on the matter (having learned more than you on the matter) and having been taught by who themselves knew more after conducting studies and research and went up mountains, down oceanic trenches in bathyscapes and/or stoon in the middle of noewhere in Kansas (possibly Nebraska) and discovered these things and can attest they are true.

Now, if we must believe things we don't understand on the authority of people (who are, frankly, not that impressive) why shouldn't we believe truths we don't understand on the authority of God? DUH! Of course we have to believe Him.

Again, if a 3rd grade student knew all the 3rd grade material the 3rd grade teacher knew, he (or, just as likely, she) wouldn't need to go to school; being equally knowledgeable as the teacher, the student would equal the teacher. Then the 3rd grade student could stay home playing Nintendo and eating pudding from a cup.

So if we knew all that God knows, we would be as great as He. (Quick! Where'd you read that before? Ring any bells?) You might as well try to put ocean into a bucket, to understand the wisdom of God. This is where the assorted unbelievers make their mistake. They want to understand, with their limited*** intelligence the limitless knowledge and unfathomable ways of God. So, when they don't understand, they refuse to believe. Ta-da!

Which doesn't sound so bright from this vantage point. Wouldn't you roll your eyes at a child who refuses to believe the earth is sperical and spinning because our senses say otherwise? As the child grows older and learns more the child will understand. This is why we say to our kids "Just wait until you get older. You'll see."

The same way, when we depart from this life and come into the presence of God, we'll see clearly the things that make no sense now. But, until we actually get there, the best we can do is believe them God's teaching. So if we go around not believing anything we don't understand, pretty soon we'll soon believe nothing and make idiots of ourselves.



* We're NOT talking about abusive or mentally unhinged people or those commanding us to violate God's commandments...get a grip.

** Shut up about Galileo. I know where you're going with this, so DON'T.

*** If that!

And this just made me smile

It's nice to know the Society of Jesus will be in good hands after all it has had to endure at the hands of ::cough, cough:: less than stellar members.



Well, this just made me laugh.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Springboarding off Deus Caritas Est

I must preface this entry by saying I loved this encyclical.

If one rummages around the blogosphere, especially Catholic blogs, you begin to see an interesting dichotomy. Progressives vs. traditionalists, orthodox vs. heterodox, etc. You may have noticed that I generally give these arguments a VER-R-R-RY wide berth. I have my views, yes, but I am not the sort of man who likes to join in fights. I am much more concerned with reminding people--from the fringe progressivist who thinks Mass should end in the stoning of a convicted capitalist to the fringe traditionalist who thinks the Church has been adrift since Greek ceased to be language of the liturgy--that what unites us far outweighs whatever may divide us.

What I loved about this encyclical is that it puts many things in context and in a sort of order. As Fr. Richard Ryscavage, S.J. puts it: "In the minds of various Catholic social activists, justice should always trump charity. Pope Benedict XVI disagrees. He uses the strongest teaching instrument of the papacy to affirm the intrinsic salience of the Catholic Church’s charitable work."

Riffing off that, I'd like to chime in with my views on the matter.

There is a reason why the Church has made an emphasis on social justice and that is because there is social INjustice. We don't have to scratch too deeply to find it, either. The solution, however, is not to "press for social justice" per se, but rather, to evangelize and bring more people to God, that they may know Him, love Him and serve Him. A lot of people have equated (in my estimation, mistakenly) the pursuit of social justice with evangelization. I would modestly suggest social justice is not co-equal with evangelization and is the natural and inevitable result of successful evangelization and catechetization. A person who has been successfully (i.e., via good and correct evangelization and catechetization) brought to God cannot, by definition, behave in a systematically unjust way. On the contrary, that person will exhibit not only the sort of just behaviors we laud, but will also be ideally suited to bring others along.

Towards that end, charity is an unparalleled implement in the struggle to evangelize and, by extension, bring true social justice (or as much as can be brought given our fallen condition) to this world. Think of injustice as a tree...what stands a greater chance of ridding it permanently...some foaming-at-the-mouth lumberjack with a chainsaw or a small colony of termites gnawing at its roots?

Christ Himself gave us that answer:

"Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." (St. Matthew's Gospel 28:19)

God doesn't want us to "support" things as much as he wants us to DO things. He doesn't command us to support the feeding of the hungry, He enjoins us to actually do the feeding. Notice that Jesus commended the Good Samaritan for putting his compassion into his action, not for standing there and yelling at the priest and at the Levite and saying how much he would support legislation to protect people who fell among robbers between Jericho and Jerusalem.

Which is harder? Which demands more from each of us? Which gate seems narrower? Which seems the product of a genuine faith in Our Lord? A Christian is contemplative in prayer and dynamic in deed, not the other way around. God is love, yes, and that love, through the faithful, must be put into action according to the specific principles Christ has given us. That is inexpressively powerful testimony to our faith, and as wonderful a tool to evangelize and catechize as can be imagined, which brings us back to the most effective path to bring about that which is just. what? Well, we are left to do what Christ commanded: To love our neighbor as ourselves, to feed the hungry, quench the thirsty, clothe the naked, etc. and do it the hard way...not by grandiose public display ("Amen, I say to you, they have already had their reward.") but rather, one soul at a time.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Just for today...

(Hat tip to the Curt Jester)

Saint Project

OK, Mouseketeers! Here it is:

1- Select a saint under whose patronage you wish to be.

2- Cut and paste (physically or electronically) a picture of the saint you have chosen. Put it on the cover of your report.

3- Write a brief biography of your saint. There are books in the CCD library, the St. Theresa library, the assorted public libraries and your school library (especially if you attend a Catholic school). There are, of course, many sources online as well, such as

4- Describe what are the patronages of your chosen saint. (Patron of accountants, truck drivers, people suffering pleuresy, whatever) Mention how these apply to you.

5- Describe the qualities of your saint which you admire most. Mention how these apply to you.

6- Write down the "official prayer" to your chosen saint. For example, "my" saint is St. Michael the Archangel, and his prayer is:

Saint Michael, Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And you, Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into Hell Satan and the other evil spirits who prowl the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

7- Select a "venerable" or a "blessed" and include a VERY brief biography, and also include the prayer for this venerable/blessed's interecession. For example, you may choose Venerable Mother Luisita, OCD or Blessed Father Miguel A. Pro, SJ and include her/his prayer for intercession in some matter. Perhaps you have a grandparent who has had a stroke or heart attack, or know someone who struggles with, for example, diabetes. I'm certain you can come up with your own examples. Pray for their intercession.

Here is the intercessory prayer that applies to Blessed Miguel A. Pro:

Blessed Miguel, before your death, you told your friend to ask you for favors when you were in Heaven. I beg you to intercede for me and in union with Our Lady and all the angels and saints, to ask Our Lord to grant my petition, provided that it be God's Will.
[Here mention your request.]
We honor and adore the triune God. (Gloria)
We ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. (Come Holy Spirit)
We pray as Jesus taught us to pray. (Our Father)
We venerate with love the Virgin Mary. (Hail Mary)
All you angels, bless you the Lord forever.
Saint Joseph, Saint [name of your patron], and all the saints, pray for us.
Blessed Miguel, high spirited youth, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, loving son and brother, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, patient novice, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, exile from your homeland, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, prayerful religious, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, sick and suffering, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, defender of workers, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, courageous priest in hiding, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, prisoner in jail, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, forgiver of persecutors, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
Blessed Miguel, holy martyr, pray for us. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

Here is the intercessory prayer that applies to Venerable Mother Luisita:

O Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, King and center of all hearts! Look with merciful love on the petitions we present to You through the intercession of Your servant, Mother Mara Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
[Pause and request your petition]
We humbly beseech You to glorify her who was always such a fervent lover of Your Sacred Heart by granting us these favors if they are for Your greater honor and glory. Amen.

Others could include Pope John Paul II, Blessed Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, etc.

OK, off you go. We now return to this blog, already in progress.